Tree Preservation Orders
A district council (often called Local Planning Authority, or LPA) will make a Tree Preservation Order (TPO) 'in the interests of amenity’. This means that trees are normally visible from a public place and their removal should have a significant impact on the local environment and its enjoyment by the public. Trees may be worthy of conservation for their intrinsic beauty or for their contribution to the landscape.
LPAs have to give reasons for imposing a TPO. They should be able to explain the imposition in terms of (a) visibility, (b) individual impact (ie. size, form etc.), and (c) wider impact.
An application for consent for work to a tree subject to a TPO is generally made on the LPA's own application form (often downloadable from the Council's website). Early discussion will give the LPA a chance to advise on how best to present an application, and guide the applicant generally about procedure. In making an application be sure to state the reasons for the proposed work and specify the operations desired.
In considering applications, the LPA should (a) assess amenity value, (b) consider whether the proposal is justified having regard to the reasons put forward to support it, and (c) consider whether any loss or damage is likely to arise if consent is refused.
A common condition of consent is that a replacement tree is planted.
Frequently asked questions about TPOs
What is the purpose of a TPO? To protect trees, particularly those thought to be in immediate danger.
What can I do if I think that a tree should be protected? Contact your local planning authority making a case for protecting the tree.
Is the local planning authority responsible for looking after trees subject to a TPO? No, the owner is still responsible.
Do I always need permission to do work on a protected tree? Yes, unless the tree is dead, dying or dangerous, to prevent a legal nuisance, where pruning is good horticultural practice (as in fruit trees) and in some other unusual circumstances. If in doubt, consult the local planning authority.
What if I do work on a protected tree without permission? Deliberate destruction of a tree, or damage likely to destroy it, could result in a fine of up to £20K if convicted in a magistrate's court. For other offences, the maximum fine is £2500.
For more information on Tree Preservation Orders:
D.E.T.R., 2000. Tree Preservation Orders: A guide to the Law and Good Practice. Department of the Environment, Transport and Regions. Downloadable from: www.aie.org.uk/download/tpo_detr_guide.doc
O.D.P.M. 2004. Protected Trees: A guide to Tree Preservation Procedures. Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (now Department for Communities and Local Government). Crown copyright. Product code 04SCDD02729.